Fireworks: the law
IntroductionFireworks include items which burn and explode to produce noise or a visual effect for entertainment. Sparklers, bangers, fountains and rockets are all fireworks.
There are laws about what types of fireworks you can have and how you can use them.
Categories of fireworks
The law sets out 4 categories of fireworks in SI 174/2015. The least dangerous is Category F1 and the most dangerous is Category F4.
Category F1 fireworks can be bought and used by the general public. These are fireworks with a very low level of hazard, that make very little noise and that are for use in a limited space. They include fireworks intended to be used indoors. Examples include party poppers, throw-downs, Christmas crackers and some sparklers. Category F1 fireworks cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 12.
Fireworks in other categories are more dangerous and can only be used by professional operators in organised displays, not by the general public. These fireworks include rockets, roman candles and aerial wheels. If you want to organise a display of this type of fireworks, you must use a professional fireworks operator.
Bangers are not in Category F1 and it is illegal for the general public to import, possess or use them.
What are the offences for having a firework?
Category F1 fireworks can be bought and used by the general public. It is illegal to import, hold, sell or use any other fireworks without a licence.
It is an offence to:
- Light an unlicensed firework
- Throw a lit firework at a person or property, except for low-hazard fireworks
- Have an unlicensed firework
- Have an unlicensed firework with the intention of selling it or giving it to someone else
The offences mentioned above are specified in Section 80 of the Explosives Act 1875. These are arrestable offences – this means that the Gardaí can arrest you without a warrant if they suspect you of having committed the offence.
If you are found guilty of any of the above offences:
- On summary conviction (in the District Court), you are liable to a class C fine or to imprisonment for up to 6 months, or to both.
- On conviction on indictment (in the Circuit Court), you are liable to a maximum fine of €10,000 or to imprisonment for up to 5 years, or to both.
What can the Gardaí do when investigating these offences?
The Gardaí have wide powers to investigate these offences. If the Gardaí reasonably suspect that you have fireworks for sale or supply without a licence they may:
- Request your name and address
- Request you to go to the Garda station to verify your name and address (if they are not satisfied your details are correct)
- Search you without a warrant and detain you for the time required to carry out the search
- Enter and search any vehicle, vessel or aircraft without a warrant, if they suspect that a firework may be found there
- Seize and detain anything found in the course of the search, which is connected with fireworks
If the Gardaí suspect that you have committed an offence of sale or supply of fireworks without a licence, they may arrest you without a warrant.
The Gardaí can apply to the District Court for a search warrant which allows them to search a premises at any time (or times) within 1 week from the date of issue of the warrant. The warrant allows the Gardaí to enter a premises, by force if necessary, and it also allows them to seize anything found in the search. The Gardaí are allowed to demand the name and address of anyone who is present at the premises when they are searching it.
Anybody who obstructs the Gardaí during the search under the warrant may be arrested. If found guilty in court, you may be liable on summary conviction to a class C fine or to imprisonment for up to 6 months, or to both.
All fireworks sold must include the following on the firework or packaging:
- Instructions for use
- Minimum safety distance (if appropriate)
- “For outdoor use only” (if appropriate)
- Minimum age of person it can be sold to
- Name, type of item and category of firework
- Name of the manufacturer or importer
- The CE mark
- Explosive content